Victoria Ijeh (BA Media Arts 2011 and MA Producing Film & Television 2012) is the Founder of Iconic Steps, a social enterprise supporting young people from diverse backgrounds to enter the media industry. She speaks to us about her inspiration for the company, the impact it is having and her aspirations for the future.
Victoria always knew she wanted to study something related to media. “I liked the balance of both practical and theory that was offered at Royal Holloway. I also wanted to go to a good, well-known university so the combination suited me,” she says. She particularly enjoyed her BA in Media Arts, “The support and motivation of one of my lecturers, Adam Ganz, was great and encouraged me to keep going. I also really enjoyed the psychoanalysis angle of one of the modules - it was a different side to film I hadn’t known before and it still has an impression on me today.”
Although Victoria had thought about the concept of Iconic Steps prior to university, it wasn’t until she had to set up a company as part of her Masters that she considered the finer details and went that step further. “I think the idea for the project was to set up a film company but I based it on Iconic Steps,” she recalls. “Effectively it was from looking at the practicalities of that and various other things that helped with the progression of the company. Having the space to do that on a course was really beneficial.”
Iconic Steps is a social enterprise which supports young people aged 16-25 from diverse backgrounds to enter the media industry. Victoria and her team provide that extra bit of help the young people need to acquire much needed skills, experience and resilience to increase their opportunities. Commercially they also work on commissioned projects with their young people, to produce compelling video and photo content for clients.
So, what was her inspiration? “I didn’t see many young people like me who were doing the same things I was doing as early as I was doing them and I wanted to change that. The British Film Institute supported me while I set up Iconic Steps and then I started connecting to different production companies. After our pilot in 2011, seeing the progression of the young people we worked with was the boost I needed that made me think that this is something that’s definitely needed and wanted.”
Back in 2011, Iconic Steps simply involved Victoria sharing her connections (which were limited at the time) with eight young people. Today a team of three work with over 100 young people as well as media partners across the board, including Netflix, Disney, Warner Brothers, Sony and independent labels. “More and more people are becoming aware of us and want to work with us to access our young people. Our young people are progressing into the industry in all different areas and levels.”
Having helped so many young people enter into the media industry over the past nine years, Victoria is very aware of what it takes to get ahead. “The key thing I would have loved to have known when starting out in the industry and something I pass onto other young people is the importance of finding someone in the industry to mentor you. Make sure you reach out to different people in the industry, not just those in senior positions, but those climbing the ladder too. Don’t just focus on getting in the application forms, but incorporate one-to-one communication and talk to people.”
Building on her past successes, the future of Iconic Steps looks bright as Victoria aspires to expand their reach and support even more young people. “Right now we run around eight to ten courses a year and I would love to grow and run even more. I would love to continue our growth with different media partners, start different initiatives and schemes for the young people and grow our commercial activity.”
Victoria has recently joined the Royal Holloway School of Performing and Digital Arts Advisory Board and we look forward to her bringing her invaluable experience and knowledge of the industry to the university.